FACTBOX-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
(Adds new developments)
March 4 (Reuters) - France will extend COVID-19 weekend lockdowns to the region around the Channel coast town of Calais, following similar lockdowns around Nice and Dunkirk.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
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* The European Union is planning to extend its export authorisation scheme for COVID-19 vaccines to the end of June, two EU sources told Reuters on Thursday, as a shipment of AstraZeneca shots from the EU to Australia was blocked.
* Italian municipal and regional elections originally planned for late spring will be delayed due to the pandemic, the government said on Thursday.
* After two straight days of record COVID-19 deaths in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday told Brazilians to stop "whining" and move on, in his latest remarks attacking distancing measures and downplaying the gravity of the pandemic.
* Cuba has begun late-stage trials of its most advanced experimental COVID-19 vaccine, edging closer to a potential home-grown inoculation.
* Alabama's governor said she was extending the state's mask mandate for another month, heeding the advice of health experts and breaking with decisions by neighboring Mississippi and Texas earlier this week to lift their requirements.
* California Governor Gavin Newsom said his state will set aside 40% of its COVID-19 vaccine doses for the hardest-hit communities, local media reported.
* Syria has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections since mid-February but lockdown options remain limited due to the country's dire economic situation, a member of the country's coronavirus advisory committee said on Thursday.
* Indian doctors and politicians welcomed efficacy data for a state-backed coronavirus vaccine that was given emergency approval in January without the completion of a late-stage trial, making people reluctant to receive the shot.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Algeria has reported six new cases of the coronavirus variant first identified in Britain, bringing the total number to eight.
* Kuwait will impose a 5 p.m to 5 a.m. curfew and close parks from Sunday until April 8 in a bid to contain the coronavirus, the government's spokesman said on state TV.
* South African police have seized hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines and arrested four suspects in connection with the haul, the Interpol global police co-ordination agency said.
* German biotech firm CureVac has enlisted pharmaceutical giant Novartis to help produce its experimental vaccine, while it expects initial results from a late-stage trial of its vaccine early in the second quarter.
* Britain's medical regulator said it would fast-track vaccines for coronavirus variants, adding that the makers of already-authorized shots would not need new lengthy clinical trials to prove their adapted vaccines will work.
* Democrats in the U.S. Senate said on Thursday they had modified President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to steer more aid to smaller U.S. states as lawmakers prepared to begin a lengthy debate on the bill.
* The U.S. Treasury on Thursday launched a new program to infuse $9 billion into minority and community lenders to boost financing for small businesses and consumers struggling with the pandemic in low-income and underserved communities.
* U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell repeated his pledge to keep credit loose and flowing until Americans are back to work, rebutting investors who have openly doubted if he can stick to that promise once the pandemic passes and the economy surges on its own.
(Compiled by Amy Caren Daniel; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta)
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